When is a public square not a public square? When Toronto police decide to barricade it — yet again.
The scene: In the early hours of Saturday morning, police officers in riot gear — wearing helmets and bulletproof vests — gathered on a plaza in the Annex to keep people from gathering.
The reasoning: The plaza, known as a gathering place for the Black Lives Matter movement, was blocking the street and endangering pedestrians. But that wasn’t enough for the Toronto Police Service (TPS).
After several hours, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 and the Toronto Federation of Labour (TFL) staged a sit-in for almost five hours in front of City Hall. TPS police showed up in force in an attempt to disperse the protest.
But this time, the protest was just getting started. On Saturday afternoon, more than 250 people had gathered in support of police officers who’d been charged with assault, and a crowd of many times that number joined the protest — standing, chanting, holding signs, and chanting back.
The protest was a part of a day-long series of actions against the violence of law enforcement and the inaction of the political establishment in the fight against racism and the police.
“It is a day of solidarity with the families of those who have been killed in this country by police,” said CUPE lawyer Jeff Robertson, before the protest concluded. “This is a day for the whole city to come together and say that we’re standing up for the families that have been killed by the police, and we are saying we will not stand for this violence.”
In the end, the protest succeeded in disrupting the work of the city, as people came from as far as Vancouver, Alberta, to stand up for the cause. While there were no arrests, TPS officers were forced to deploy a number of tear